Grand Canyon of the East

20131018_113748An appropriate moniker for Letchworth State Park in New York.  The canyon itself is 650 deep with slate/sandstone walls.  The Genesee River flows through the bottom – kind of a frosty, minty green color when we arrived Thursday, and a swirling brown madness all day today after big rains last night. 20131017_162514 The change in color was amazing, although you can’t really pick it up in the photos.

As a Michigan flatlander, it’s been an impressive trip through the State Parks of New York – such diversity we just don’t see, although Michigan has its own spectacular shoreline beauty, and northern woodsy remoteness.  Fall colors here are definitely waning, although some of the yellow birches are defiantly hanging tough.20131017_15042720131017_161920 Letchworth SP is huge – probably 20 miles from end to end, along the canyon.  Many of the trees are identified with their planting date back to the 1860s.  The park is beautifully maintained and clean.  Most of the NY parks have a carry in/carry out policy, which means there are no trash barrels to be found.  Amazingly enough, the policy seems to work here, as litter is scarce.  We found ourselves carrying Jezzy’s little poop-loaded bags for miles!   Many of the trails, bridges, stairways and picnic areas were built by 3000 CCC corps workers each year between 1933 and 1941.20131018_11523520131018_111251 Hiking today, we climbed probably 1500 of these steps.  20131018_115905Slate walls, some with mortar, and some stacked up in that particular New England-y kind of way line many of the paths, leading to the waterfalls.  Did I mention enormous waterfalls?  20131017_151423We hiked from the lower falls past the huge middle falls to the upper falls today.  A railway bridge, built in 1875 towers over the upper falls.20131017_152634

On and on – this park has it all.  Stone picnic tables scattered around areas with log shelters, complete with fireplaces.  Bubbling creeks falling over rocks to join the Genesee at the bottom of the canyon.20131018_142641  We hiked only three of the two dozen or so trails here, and just got a taste of the variety of terrain.  But, we are hooked.

Locations like this make me wish I were a better, more patient photographer.  Or, at least one with better editing skills.  But, if you get a chance….visit this park.  Take a hike.

We’re making the long haul home tomorrow – a very long day for us of about 450 miles.  Hoping the Canadian border folks keep their mitts off Jezzy’s food.

Roadtrip. Has. Ended.


Baseball Fever

Heading toward New York, we steamed across southern New Hampshire and Vermont across some of the most beautiful roads we have yet traveled.  Although the prime colors were probably a week past, the lush rolling scenery was a real treat.  Picture puzzle perfect.

There wasn’t anyplace to camp really close to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We wound up at some crappy little campsite, conveniently located 150 yards from the Interstate and 50 yards from a busy state highway.  Noisy?  You bet!20131014_151702 But, for one night, we can make do with anything.  We rolled out by 8:30 the next morning.  But, I’m tired of putting $.25 in a slot for a shower.  This one was bad….

We didn’t know what to expect at Cooperstown.  Neither of us had done any research about the area or the Hall itself, so we were unprepared for this amazingly beautiful little town.  In my mind, I was expecting a modern museum, and what we got was a museum in a New England town hall.  Charming.

If you’re a baseball fan, this is Mecca.  History, artifacts, stories of the great players and plays.j We started with a multi-media presentation, which was unimpressive.  Sitting in a fake baseball stadium auditorium with a bunch of Seniors singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame – you can picture this, right?  Lame. Let me outta here!   John and I split up to explore on our own terms.

Really liked this early beer ad.  20131015_095244

I was particulary interested in the history and evolution of the Negro Leagues and the area of women in baseball.20131015_10404920131015_10511420131015_10534020131015_095153

Every single scrap of Detroit Tiger memorabilia was closely examined.  20131015_111037There’s practically an entire wing devoted to Babe Ruth.  Pretty impressive. 20131015_113243There was a running video of some of the great plays of 2013, and I could have watched that forever.  Baseball players can be amazing athletes.

The Gallery area of the Hall contains plaques of the Hall of Fame players, each with a summary of their achievements. 20131015_113202On and on…..

20131015_114326Leaving the Hall, we collected Jezzy from the Fireball, which was parked out on the street attracting admiring glances.  Decided to wander around town for a bit – there’s more baseball-related stuff there than you can imagine.  Lots of shops selling memorabilia, baseball cards, bats, and whatnot.  Cooperstown is also the home of James Fenimore Cooper, and there’s a large park area with a statue of him.

By this time, I was running out of steam, and my camera battery was shot.  No photos to share.  We motored on to Robert Treman State Park near Ithaca for our next couple of nights.  Photos from a newly re-charged camera (and body) to follow….

Rustic New York

We’re creeping slowly eastward thru the Adirondacks.  Autumn has a firm grasp here – nights are cold, and the days are crisp and sunny.

along the road in Speculator, NY

We’ve had no phone service or wi-fi for four days now (or electric power for that matter), so many of the stories we had to tell have already faded.  Guess that’s why people keep journals and blogs, right?

After leaving the Finger Lakes area, we rolled thru the Adirondacks toward Putnam Pond State Park.  Some of the hills on the northern edge of the Lakes were huge and long.  At one point, as we were lumbering up a mile-long hill, John looked down at the speedometer and noted that we were getting a whopping 4 gmpg!  “It’s going to cost us a dollar just to get up this hill”, he commented.  What’s going to happen when we really get into the mountains?  Guess we’ll find out.

Putnam Pond is incredibly beautiful.  We like rustic & remote, and this was right up our alley.  20130923_115303The aging facilities were spotless – not hurt at all by the fact that we were one of only two campers in the entire park.  Overhead, flocks of geese passed by about every 15 minutes.  Must have been thousands that went by in the two days we were there – probably headed to the Montezuma Refuge.

We took a long hike, which nearly ended in tragedy. We had been hiking for a couple hours, and determined that we were truly alone in the woods. 20130923_124018 So, foolishly we let Jezzy off her leash.  She would hang with us, and we moved along the trail, climbing and descending, sometimes over a hard rock surface, and other times over deep cushions of pine needles.  Suddenly, Jezzy stood up on her hind legs to get a glimpse of something.  Like a shot, she tore off thru the woods, her six foot dragging behind her, still attached to her bright red harness.  John and I looked at each other dumbly, then he took off after her, saying “you stay on the Trail”.  I could hear her high-pitched excited bark occasionally, quickly moving away.  Could also hear John’s  “Jezzy, come!” also quickly receding in the thick woods.  After 20 minutes or so, I could hear nothing.  I called out a few times, and started to count loudly, hoping to give John a sense of where I was.  Nothing.  Such a feeling of hopelessness and despair – you cannot imagine.

Another 10 minutes went by, and I could hear something – John, but no Jezzy.  John was pretty dirty – he had slid down an embankment in his pursuit.  He felt we should go back to the spot where Jezzy first took off, so we went about 200 yards back down the trail.  Less than a minute later, as we were trying to get our heads around the situation, Jezzy came crashing thru the brush – her harness and leash gone somewhere, but her collar and id tags still firmly attached.  She was thirsty, but quite unaware of the emotional turmoil she had caused.  Lesson learned….she will NEVER EVER get off-leash again.  Ever.

We’ve moved onto Rogers Rock State Park, just 20 miles or so down the road, just a few miles from Ticonderoga (or Ti, as we now call it). We’ve got a campsite right on Lake George, with our own private patio on the beach.

our private 'patio' on Lake George

Still no cell service or electric power, but a spectacular site.  Again, we are nearly the only campers in this 250 site park.

As we sat outside during cocktail hour our first evening, we saw a “loaded” cyclist ride into a campsite nearby.  Loaded cyclists are those who are carrying all their gear on the bike while traveling, either in panniers (saddlebags) or pulling a small trailer.  Curious to hear her stories, we invited her over in the evening, and again for breakfast.  Beth was completing her first solo tour – cycling around the Adirondack area for a week. 20130925_095531 After breakfast, she headed to Ti to catch the ferry to Vermont, where her car was parked.  Then home to New Hampshire, and her job as a hospice nurse.  Gritty and gutsy.  Good show.

Yesterday was a cycling trip up to Ft. Ticonderoga – site of the first victory for the Americans over the British in the Revolutionary War by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. 20130925_135817Interesting displays and a stunningly beautiful site.


Today, we’re crossing into Vermont.  Hope to find phone service along the way somewhere to post, and to check in with family.